James Purefoy’s Cardboard Children

Hello youse,

This won’t be a long one, and I’ll tell you why. Friday was my birthday. I am 34 years old. I am older than Jesus, and considerably more powerful. Did Jesus have a column on Rock, Paper, Shotgun and his own telly show? No. He didn’t. He did have that Jesus of Nazareth I suppose, that was a telly thing. But he wasn’t even in it! IT WAS ROBERT POWELL! That’s like me getting some actor, like James Purefoy or something, to do my column!

Which is what I’ve done.


Hi, my name’s James Purefoy. I’m an actor. You might know me from the HBO series “Rome” or from my wonderful performance as Solomon Kane in the fantastic film “Solomon Kane” from the Solomon Kane stories featuring Robert E. Howard’s greatest character Solomon Kane.

Robert asked me to do his column today because he’s my biggest fan. In fact, Robert regularly gets drunk in pubs in Glasgow’s West End, and shouts things like “JAMES FUCKING PUREFOY SHOULD BE ROLAND DESCHAIN!!” at bemused women. I will be upfront with you – I know nothing about board games. Sure, I’ve played Monopoly in the past, and played some Poker and things like that. But I’m a bit busy with my acting these days (and when not acting, preparing for roles by eating well and exercising!) so I maybe game a little bit less than Robert does.

Here’s the thing. It was Robert’s birthday yesterday (I got him a £10 voucher for Woolworths. How was I to know the chain had gone bankrupt?!) and he tells me that he has a full £125 of what he calls “birthday money”. That’s why, today, he’s going out to buy some games.

Now, he’s on his way into Glasgow city centre as I type this, and he wants me to talk to you about the games that he should buy. With £125 he tells me he can buy maybe three full price games. But he hasn’t decided what to buy yet! If I was as indecisive as he is, I would never have been able to dispatch with all those demons in the fantastic film Solomon Kane, available to buy on BluRay now.

So, here’s what he’s been thinking – I’ll just type up our phone conversations.


ROBERT: Hi James. Loved you in Ironclad too, by the way. Don’t forget to tell them all about Ironclad. Anyway, this is an expansion for the expansions of Arkham Horror.

JAMES: An expansion for expansions? What?

ROBERT: Well, Arkham Horror has lots of expansions. So they decided to do a big box of stuff that expands everything, including the expansions.

JAMES: That’s insane. That’s like me doing another ten minutes of Solomon Kane stuff, but not a sequel. And then doing another three minutes of Solomon Kane stuff to add onto that ten. But still no sequel!

ROBERT: I like Arkham Horror. The problem is that no-one I know likes it as much as I do.

JAMES: It’s like Bizarro Solomon Kane. Everybody likes Solomon Kane equally!

ROBERT: Exactly. And so, I can barely get Arkham Horror onto the table. Do I really need more stuff? Or is this just a product that feeds into that “collect ’em all” thing that some of us suffer from?

JAMES: I don’t suffer from that. What are you talking about?

ROBERT: No. You’re right. I won’t buy Miskatonic Horror.


ROBERT: The other thing I’m thinking of is the War of Honor game.

JAMES: What’s that?

ROBERT: There’s this card game called Legend of the Five Rings. It’s been going for years. It’s a proven system. A great game. And this is like a multiplayer version of it, in a box. They’ve made multiplayer work, with the addition of some elements to the card-

JAMES: Wait. A card game? What do you mean?

ROBERT: I mean card game in the sense that Magic: The Gathering is a card game. I don’t mean-

JAMES: You don’t mean Poker.

ROBERT: No, I don’t mean Poker. It’s still a very-

JAMES: You don’t mean Blackjack.

ROBERT: Exactly. It’s more of a-

JAMES: You don’t mean Scabby Queen.

ROBERT: No. I– No.

JAMES: So don’t buy it. Poker is great! You want to play cards, get some buddies round and play Poker!

ROBERT: Yes, but this has a Samurai theme. It’s got this cool honour system thing too, where-

JAMES: There’s honour in Poker. Believe me.


JAMES: Have you ever covered Poker in your column?

ROBERT: No. Because everyone knows about Poker.

JAMES: Exactly. Because it’s a great game.

ROBERT: No, because it’s–

JAMES: (In my best Solomon Kane voice) “Damn ye to hell then!”

ROBERT: Haha! Okay. War of Honor is off the list.


ROBERT: The next thing I like the look of is 7 Wonders.

JAMES: Sounds really boring.

ROBERT: Well, wait a minute. Apparently it’s a drafting game, with the setting being the 7 wonders of the world or something. I don’t know. It’s a card development game, like Dominion, but with you drafting the cards you need.

JAMES: Ublabby-blabbery-blubby-bloo.


JAMES: That’s what you’re saying. That’s what it sounds like to my ears. A-babbery-blabbery-drafting-blabbery-Dominion.

ROBERT: It’s a good game, it’s just-

JAMES: It sounds so mechanical, Rab! It sounds like you’re describing the inside of a train engine to me. It doesn’t sound like a game!

ROBERT: But it IS a game. In an abstract sense, you’re trying to build a-

JAMES: Abstract?!

ROBERT: James, calm-

JAMES: Abstract! If you sat down to watch Solomon Kane and found out that we’d decided to just ABSTRACT me chopping demons’ heads off, would that be to your liking?

ROBERT: No, but-

JAMES: If, when you sat in the cinema watching Ironclad, you found that we’d merely abstracted that incredible siege on the castle, we’d merely abstracted sending those fucking pigs under the castle and BURNING THE PIGS-

ROBERT: James, alright!

JAMES: Merely abstracted a man getting CUT COMPLETELY IN HALF–

ROBERT: Jesus! It’s off the list!

JAMES: Hahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahaha! Purefoy’s the Pure BOY!


ROBERT: So, this might be more to your taste. This is a card game that simulates being in the boxing ring. It-

JAMES: Hahahahahaha!

ROBERT: James?




ROBERT: Jesus.

JAMES: Sorry. Sorry, man. Carry on. That was rude. Carry on. What were you saying?

ROBERT: It’s a real-time strategy card game that simulates a boxing match.


ROBERT: (coughs) You have to worry about playing counters to your opponent’s moves – in fact, you need to keep track of about six different things at once. Plays really fast and-

JAMES: Just fight a guy.


JAMES: Just fight a guy. If you want to fight a guy, just fight a guy. At the end of Solomon Kane, did you see me say to the bad guy “Hey, instead of settling this like men, why don’t we try to find a card game that simulates this struggle between good and evil?” No, you saw me just fight a guy.

ROBERT: But that was a film, James. To be fair.

JAMES: A good film.

ROBERT: A fantastic film. I bought the Blu-Ray last week!

JAMES: It is available to buy on Blu-Ray now.


Well, after all that chatter, Robert’s phone ran out of charge. I have no idea what games he bought with his birthday money. He tells me that he’ll be here to talk about them next Saturday, so that should be fun for you all. Me, I’ll probably be working out or reading some new scripts.

Accepting Robert’s three grand fee for doing this column got me thinking about games, and what it means to play them. Playing a game is really no different from being an actor in a film like the wonderful Solomon Kane, or the fun Ironclad. You’re playing a part, I suppose, or something. You’re immersing yourself in a setting, and for a couple of hours you become a part of that world, or something like that.

And, in a sense, being a gamer is like being James Purefoy. You’re handsome, successful, you make great, underappreciated films and women want to make love to you.


“A card game that simulates being in the boxing ring.” HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Honestly, no, sorry, honestly, live and let live. That’s what I say. Live and let live.

Are people actually reading this? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

SOLOMON KANE and IRONCLAD are available NOW on Blu-Ray!


  1. Wozzle says:

    Not sure what I just read, but it has JAMES FUCKING PUREFOY so I approve.

    • McDan says:

      I do love James Purefoy, and Mr Florence for this amazing article. I LIKE BOARDGAMES, now shush, I’m far too hungover to make sense, but nice article.

    • Jimblob says:

      “Hahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahaha! Purefoy’s the Pure BOY!”

      Perhaps the best thing I have ever read.

  2. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Can I have my time back that I spent reading this?

    • PleasingFungus says:

      I have never felt so satisfied, clicking “block”.

    • Bilbo says:

      If you don’t get this we shall never see eye-to-eye. Hopping on the blockwagon.

    • MD says:

      I read your comment several times in disbelief, so you currently owe me about thirty seconds. I’m typing this really slowly though, so that number is rapidly increasing. If you don’t pay me back today I’m going to start charging interest.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Can I have an angry mob who will roast and eat your comments of quality in the ashes of the senate house?

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Just came accross a bit shit to me. I did enjoy Roberts opening statement, hence why I kept reading.

    • thebigJ_A says:


    • angramainyu says:

      I with you — I rather much more appreciated Cardboard Children on, say, Space Alert — which actually made me go out and pick up the game.

      This had some funny, but without some more meaningful critique, it was more what I’d expect of a Cracked article.

    • Bilbo says:

      The whole point is that he doesn’t have any critique to give this week, he’s just updating us on what he’s thinking about reviewing next. #fuckingpayattention

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @ Bilbo, well, I don’t know if there is much point replying to this as you ‘hopped on the blockwagon.’ But I realise that he doesn’t have any critique to give, doesn’t save it from being a shit article imo. #Dontbeapompousprick.

  3. JuJuCam says:

    This is the most amazing article written by James Purefoy I’ve ever read.

  4. MrEvilGuy says:

    I want his name to be purejoy

  5. Merlkir says:

    It has to be said that Solomon Kane is a lot of fun and while Ironclad is painfully predictable and kinda boring, it has extremely well done gory parts.


    • Bilbo says:

      How much is Paul Giamatti in it, though? Because last night I nearly bought it on the basis that it has Giamatti in it, but he’s got like, fourth billing, so I figure it’s a few minutes at best and that would suck

    • mejoff says:

      Being, at least loosely, based on historical events will tend to remove the unpredictability from a film, yes.

  6. Zakkeh says:

    What….Who……I need to be British to understand this. That is all I can think of about it.

    • Bilbo says:

      It’s just a bit of surreal comedy. Writing Rab’s column is unusual behaviour for James Purefoy, and making constant references to his films and generally being a bit of a buffoon is unusual, because he’s a public figure and as with all public figures usually his statements are carefully controlled, so that’s funny, etc. Some people enjoy it and some don’t, I think it’s fair enough if you don’t find it funny. It’s pretty painful to try and explain, though.

      It isn’t exclusively a British thing, either: link to en.wikipedia.org

  7. Triester says:

    James purefoy u are my FAVOURITE ACTOR!!

    I loved you as TITUS PULLO!!


  8. Phoenix says:

    James Purefoy owns.

  9. MD says:

    I’m not a boardgamer, but I’m beginning to love this column.

    • nofing says:

      Yeah, that’s what I thought. Usually I’m skipping Cardboard Children, after reading a few sentences, but this one was just awesome. Oh and sorry James Purefoy, but Solomon Kane was awful…

  10. phoenixdk says:

    You need better friends if you have no-one to play Arkham Horror with! I’d offer you a game in as non a “creepy internet” way as possible… but 1) I live “oop norf” and 2) it’s not possible to be not-creepy with offers on the internet.

    • 12kill4 says:

      I could make a non-creepy offer on the internet for you…

      Hmm I guess you’re right.

    • theleif says:

      Want to come over to my house and play? I’ll let you be the overlord.

      See, that wasn’t creepy at all.

  11. Lakshmi says:

    I don’t even play board games and I approve.

  12. Hakkesshu says:

    Did this site turn into Something Awful overnight? What?

  13. aircool says:

    Did you get to see any ladies boobs in any of your films?

  14. MartinNr5 says:

    This was very funny. Well done. :)

    Although I’m hoping that we get Robert back next week as James lacks a bit of experience with games – no matter how great an actor he is.

  15. reticulate says:

    Thirteenth! Thirteenth!

    (Also aware Antony wasn’t part of the 13th proper. But anytime I see one of the actors from Rome I’m required by law to shout this out.)

    • Caleb367 says:

      I AM THE SON OF HADES and I approve of this comment.

    • Wozzle says:

      *Fat guy who does all the anouncements in the forum voice* “Gaius! Julius! Caesar!”

  16. MeestaNob says:

    No ‘Staring Eyes’ tag, is someone asleep at the wheel again?

  17. Will Tomas says:

    That column was absolutely amazing. Nice one, Rob, it’s hilarious.

  18. inertia says:

    magnificent. i’m wiping a tear from my eye as i type this hence no capitals because effort.

  19. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Purefoy is actually a fairly average actor, nothing to write home about, but this column may have changed my mind on that. It’s probably the best work he’s ever done.

    • Lambchops says:

      What?! Better than Solomon Kane?

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      You’re actually wrong, but I find myself agreeing with you purely because of your name.

  20. TooNu says:

    that was funny :) Thanks Rab, oh and happy birthday big man

  21. John P says:

    Excellent. Now I would like the expansion of this column to feature Brian Blessed.

  22. Lambchops says:

    On a side note is Scabby Queen the dullest card game ever or there an even worse one? I think there must be, at least at the end of Scabby Queen you get to hurl abuse at whoever loses. Still I can’t think of one off hand.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I like Scabby Queen. :-(

    • elwood_p says:

      ‘hurl abuse’ ? – If your knuckles aren’t bleeding after losing a game then you ain’t doing it right :)

    • gwathdring says:

      War is only interesting if your pinnacle of entertainment is watching the little progress bar move as your code compiles or if you are sexually aroused by by determinism. My cell phone’s processing chip could probably play this game against itself in two minutes tops. I’ve never actually played war, but I’ve been present at a lot of games which I have then either won or lost. Because it’s not really a game. It’s more of a card-based event or activity. It’s set-up and then it does its incredibly boring thing, needing you and your opponent only for the hands.

  23. Yosharian says:


    But I have to admit, James Purefoy is a god among men.

  24. Bobsy says:

    The best bit of Rome was James Purefoy’s twitchy buttocks.

    • Quine says:

      Too few men are prepared to get oiled up and shaved on-screen for their Art…

  25. frenz0rz says:

    Wh…what? What did I just read?!

    I’ll never be able to watch Rome again without thinking of James Purefoy laughing hysterically at a boxing simulation card game. Which is a strange thing to say.

    Rome was awesome, though. I laughed so hard when he chased Octavian around the room and started hitting him for calling his mother a whore.

  26. Mirqy says:

    I’m not 34 until Tuesday. I don’t have an RPS column but I do have a hangover. Beat that.

  27. Buceph says:

    Did James Purefoy just wink at me in that graphic at the top of the article? I may be hallucinating but damnit he should be winking at me, and everyone else. Because he’s Solomon Fucking Kane damnit!

    Also, given that Rob might not have played Seven Wonders yet, it is in no way like Dominion. I hate Dominion, Dominion to me is what ex-M:TG players play, because they can be all cold and analytical with cold, analytical cards. Seven Wonders is beautiful, with great art and theme, and the theme actually comes through while playing. Also it’s so damn easy to pick up if you’ve played a few other boardgames. It’s like boardgaming essence distilled into the essence of boardgaming essence.

    But best of all, it plays well with seven people. It’s really a must have if you play boardgames. It is the consumate warm-up boardgame for getting a night going.

    • gwathdring says:

      Wouldn’t that essence be a pure drafting game, without the bells and whistles? I guess that would be a pure-essence card game. So perhaps something like the GIPF series is a better example of board-gaming essence. The point is 7 Wonders may be easy to learn, but it collects so many ideas from both simpler and more complicated games that I don’t see why you’d call it Distilled Essence of Board game, let alone a yet more pure example.

    • Buceph says:

      I think the reason I’m so enamoured with it, and think it’s a very pure boardgame is because of what it does for the players. If you’ve played one or two Euros and an Ameritrash or two, the game is immediately accessible. You will understand how the game works and what to do after a single practice game. Then it burgeons and you realise that there are underlying mechanics, that although simple do allow for quite an interesting tactical decision, if a relavitively minor strategic decision. Then there’s the way that it gets players interacting, not only to the right and left of you, but to the right and left of the players around you, and all around the table. You can play purely on optimisation of your own game, or you can start looking at players around you and even further.

      It’s rules are an amalgam of rules that are immediately knowable, and accesible. (Mechanics)
      It ranges from a purely solo optimisation to a wide ranging interactive game. (Social aspect)
      The drafting part along with resource collection is balanced to allow for positive decision making. (Tactics)

      I find that if people like this game, they will like a lot of other games, and you can ask what specific part of 7 Wonders they liked, and make a reasonable guess on what other games the would like from that. It’s the idea that this game offers an insight into a gamer personality. Which is vastly different to Dominion and Race for the Galaxy which could be considered similar in style, but offer very little beyond the raw mechanics of optimisation, especially in the areas I’ve outlined where 7 Wonders succeeds.

  28. WPUN says:

    Speaking of Ironclads… I loved that game. link to boardgamegeek.com Much too complex for today’s kids, though.

  29. brulleks says:

    Brilliantly written article. I could easily visualise James PurefoyJaneJackman reacting exactly like that.
    I’m not even that interested in board games, but this was just too amusing not to read.

  30. Antsy says:

    Thanks James Purefoy. I liked you in that thing what you were in with the swords.

    When you play Monopoly I imagine a pile of folk sitting around the board, drumming their fingers and yawning waiting for you to finish shagging some bird up against the wall, cause it’s your turn. Every turn.

  31. Ion of Chios says:

    Great AP-style ‘concept review’ – more surreal, creative writing in this ilk, please:)

  32. JB says:

    Also on the subject of boardgames, Quinn’s boardgame site has a new video episode out:

    link to shutupshow.tumblr.com

  33. Zogtee says:


  34. malkav11 says:

    Solomon Kane is not available in the US. :(

    …well, okay, apparently we can buy an all regions import DVD, but there is no US release and the Bluray is region-locked.

  35. TsunamiWombat says:

    They made a Solomon Kane movie?

  36. Falfa says:

    I was glad to hear rumour that JAMES FUCKING PUREFOY would join the cast of Game of thrones but so far null. Good lad

  37. Thoric says:

    Nice article, i too liked “Witch Hunter: The Mov… i mean “Solomon Kane”.

  38. Tams80 says:

    What honour in Poker?

  39. President Weasel says:

    I doubt Rab is reading this, and if the birthday money thing was true and not just made up for the column, he’s probably spent it already. Just in case though:

    That game about the wonders is good fun – deep enough to be engaging, but shallow enough that you can get 6 people round the table, explain it quickly, and get a game in before any of them become horribly bored.

    I played Arkham with the expansion to the expansions on Saturday. I’ve never really warmed to Arkham (I can never get rid of the nagging feeling that I could be having more fun by playing Call of Cthulu instead, and it would probably be less complex too) but the expansion (and about four other expansions at the same time – we needed two tables) didn’t make it any worse.
    I did manage to get three successive characters devoured during the game. Go into gate, pick up card, “you must fight Shub Niggarath, on your own, right now.” Get new character, immediately go into gate, get “roll lore -2, if successful you get 5 clues, if unsuccessful get devoured. Get devoured. Then the big bad woke up and devoured everybody. 4 hours of my life, and the world got destroyed at the end.